The LGBT+ community in Liverpool will “reclaim Pride” next month to fight back against a surge of violence and corporate rainbow-washing.
Liverpool and the wider Merseyside area has seen a sharp, shocking increase in homophobic and transphobic attacks in recent weeks and months, with members of the community beaten in broad daylight, subjected to disgusting abuse and left fearing for their lives.
“Anti-LGBT+ hate crime is out of control across the UK”, says Reclaim Pride Liverpool. “Merseyside figures since 2014 have gone up over 900 per cent, and we have seen a large spate of violet homophobic and transphobic attacks in the city over the past two months.”
The organisation, “a trans-led collective of local LGBT+ activists”, will hold a protest on 18 September at 1pm in Liverpool city centre’s Derby Square to demand better LGBT+ rights; trans healthcare and self-determination; a conversion therapy ban; social, racial and climate justice; and end to the commercialisation of Pride.
A spokesperson for the collective, Paul L McGowan, told PinkNews that Reclaim Pride Liverpool formed in May 2021 after seeing Liverpool Pride postponed for another year, “despite homophobic and transphobic attacks skyrocketing“.
As the collective explained on its Facebook page for the event: “We need political struggle for LGBT+ liberation, not parties sponsored by pink-washing organisations.
“It is becoming more scary and less safe to be out. One in five British LGBT+ people suffer hate crime every year.”
Reclaim Pride Liverpool condemns the “huge campaign across the political spectrum and mainstream media to dehumanise and promote lies about the lives of trans people”, and the dire state of LGBT+ rights in countries like Poland, Hungary and Georgia.
It continued: “We must come together and stand shoulder to shoulder with an internationalist message of collective solidarity for all of our LGBT+ siblings and all who are facing oppression.
“Pride events have become completely divorced from the very real political struggle that they exist because of… Pride is meant to be a protest where LGBT+ people can make their voices heard and demand better.
“You will [never] see that at a London Pride, Brighton Pride, Manchester Pride or Liverpool Pride, because they are now sponsored, funded and in some cases headed by banks and big businesses.”
Jeremy Corbyn backs Reclaim Pride Liverpool
Liverpool Pride 2021, which was cancelled this year because of COVID-19 and was replaced with a virtual parade, was sponsored by Barclays bank.
Barclays’ support for fossil fuels is notorious, and to Reclaim Pride Liverpool, makes it incompatible with the fight for equality.
“Climate change disproportionately affects marginalised communities,” the group said, describing the bank as “complicit in destroying the environment”.
Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn spoke out in support of Reclaim Pride Liverpool at an event for LGBT+ Socialists, saying: “If market interests like Virgin and Barclays are sponsoring something, it’s not going to be much of a protest.
“There’s not going to be any protest whatsoever… LGBT+ rights were only ever won by very brave people standing up and protesting.”
Corbyn added: “[Reclaim Pride Liverpool] is in that rich tradition of people that stood up and made life better, maybe not for themselves, but for those that came afterwards.”
Thank you for the support @jeremycorbyn
Pride as we know it today has strayed way to far from its roots – It’s lost it’s soul, become corporate & completely depoliticised.
— Reclaim Pride Liverpool (@ReclaimPrideLVR) August 10, 2021
LGBT+ people across the UK are moving to ‘reclaim Pride’
Reclaim Pride Liverpool comes as LGBT+ communities and activists across the UK have this year decided that enough is enough when it comes to commercial Pride events.
A similar Reclaim Pride march was held in London last month, as activists including Peter Tatchell demanded that Boris Johnson “stop stalling on LGBT+ rights” in the UK.
Protesters chanted “Pride is not for profit, keep your hands off it”, and “trans rights now” at the event, replacing Pride in London which was postponed and later cancelled.
Protesters holding placards at the first-ever Reclaim Pride march on 24 July, 2021, in London. (In Pictures via Getty/ Mark Kerrison)
In Manchester, the city’s official Pride organisation has been facing backlash after it cut funding to a life-saving free condom and lube scheme that has been running for almost three decades.
One member of Manchester’s LGBT+ community wrote on Facebook: “Stop paying for their pop concerts. Stop waiting for their permission to hold a march. Stop buying tickets to enter your own gay village, which the Pride board openly admit they don’t visit the rest of the year.
“Manchester Pride Ltd is a corrupt, profiteering racket, and shame on everyone who has allowed them to seize the power they have without challenge.”
McGowan said: “Community organisers, activists have seen their Pride Marches transformed into a seven, then nine, then 12-hour parade.
“Overflowing with corporate floats and at the service of corporate money, the Pride parade had become a new symbol of ‘gay for pay’.
“Pride organisers putting up barricades along the parade route to separate the people, the participants from its audience, essentially turning the Pride march into a entertainment piece to be watched and performed instead of allowing a true expression of our cultural legacy.”
McGowan added: “Reclaim Pride Liverool will be involving other liberation movements and the trade union movement in their activities, for by organizing together with the mass of the working class, as an intersectional movement against the establishment and bosses who exploit and divide us, we all have the power to win against the capitalist system that oppresses us all.”